SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition
 

Dear Member, 

 

Welcome to this edition of the SFA e-zine.

 

In this edition, we discuss a case which highlights the cost of ignoring grievances where an employee was awarded €20K for constructive dismissal.

 

Are you struggling to hire specific occupations from Ireland or the EU? Is the specific occupation you need missing from the critical skills list or listed on the ineligible occupations list? If yes, please submit your comments to us to amend the occupations list for employment permits.

 

Find out more about the Climate Action Plan recently launched by the Government which sets out an ambitious course of action over the coming years to address climate disruption. 

 

With over 80 participants attending our first SFA Skillnet subsidised training programmes, we are now looking for suggestions for our Autumn/Winter Schedule.

 

Think you’re GDPR compliant? Check today for free through an offer from Sovy as part of the SFA Affinity Scheme.

 

If you have recently joined the SFA or would like to ensure you get value from your membership then tune into our webinar now taking place on 15 July which will showcase the SFA services to ensure you get the most out of your SFA membership.

 

I am pleased to announce the SFA Employment Law Conference will be taking place this year in Limerick on 3 October and in Dublin on 10 October. The seminar will help attendees navigate the maze of employment law and be confident that they are complying with their obligations to their staff.

 

We also provide a summary of recent press coverage.

 

As always, we’d love to hear from you about any queries you may have, issues you wish to have raised with Government or other stakeholders and your ideas on how we can improve the business environment for us all. Please contact me on tel: 01 605 1602 or e-mail: sven@sfa.ie or tweet: @SFA_Irl or visit: www.sfa.ie.

 

Kind regards, 

Sven Spollen-Behrens

SFA Director


SFA IN THE MEDIA
Recent press coverage
 
  • National Economic Dialogue

National Economic Dialogue

 

The SFA issued a press release on the National Economic Dialogue on 27 June, calling on Government to shift its focus from multinationals to small, indigenous businesses in Budget 2020. This was covered on Business World on 27 June. SFA Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens was interviewed on this on KFM on 28 June. 

NEWS
The cost of ignoring grievances - employee awarded €20K for constructive dismissal
 

In a recent constructive dismissal case, an employee was awarded €20K due to the treatment of an office manager and the lack of intervention by the Director who was his line manager…


Most businesses strive to create a workplace whereby work colleagues work well together, support one another and work as a team. However, issues can arise so what can happen when these issues are ignored, escalate and continue to fester over time?

 

In the case of Senior Buying Manager vs Wholesale Distributor (ADJ-00018564), the intimidating and bullying behaviour of the Office Manager towards the Senior Buyer and the lack of intervention by the Director who was their line manager is a costly lesson, to the tune of €20K. The complainant resigned as they felt they had no other recourse but to leave and subsequently took a constructive dismissal case under the Unfair Dismissals Act.

 

Background to the case

 

The complainant was employed as a Senior Buyer from 1 July 2015 until 22 June 2018 when they resigned from their role. When they commenced employment their line manager was the Company Director who is based in the UK.

 

The initial issue arose between the Senior Buyer and the Office Manager when an organisational chart was circulated. It showed that the Senior Buyer reported directly to the Office Manager. He disputed this and sought clarification from the Director, who confirmed that he did not report to the Office Manager. The organisational chart was not updated to reflect this inaccuracy despite the fact that the employee reminded the Director of this on many occasions.

 

In January 2018 the employee had an accident and hospitalised. They were out of work for nine weeks and they were not given sick pay as this was at the discretion of management. The Office Manager made the decision to take him off the payroll and the Director did not intervene on this issue or contact the employee during their absence.

 

When the employee returned to work, he asked for paid time off to attend hospital appointments as part of their recovery. This was refused by the Office Manager despite the employee being on a salary. The adjudicator commented in their findings that this “frankly appears to be capricious and vindictive”. Again, his line manager, the Director ignored the complaints on this issue.

 

Another issue that arose was the allocation of work, initially some tasks were passed on to a PA which eased the burden from the employee but at a later stage he was asked to take on her tasks as she was going on maternity leave and he refused. The Office Manager threatened that his future pay and bonuses will be impacted if he did not take on the additional duties. At this stage the complainant reached out to the Director to come over from the UK and intervene. The meeting resulted in the issues being momentarily resolved, however, in actuality the situation continued to deteriorate until the Senior Buyer resigned.

 

Outcome

 

The adjudicator in summing up the case found in favour of the Senior Buyer and whilst the Office Manager stated that there was a grievance and disputes policy, this was never actively offered to the employee. In addition, his actual line manager ignored his resignation letter and the numerous issues that arose. The adjudicator stated that “the complainant made a sustained effort to make the Respondent aware of what was going on,” and that “the need to protect oneself from physical, emotional or reputational damage is paramount.” That the “intolerable aspect of his employment was the unreasonable behaviour of the Office Manager, the absence of support from the Director and the lack of clarity about the reporting structure.” The adjudicator found that it was reasonable for the employee to resign and subsequently awarded them €20K.

 

Lessons for employers

  • It is essential to deal with grievances and disputes in a clear and timely manner.
  • Employers should refer to and use their grievance policy or dignity in the workplace policy and ensure everyone receives a copy of it if an issue arises. You can download the SFA guideline on grievances or bullying.
  • Employers should not ignore issues as they do not go away and can often worsen over time.

If your business has a grievance, bullying or dispute issue please contact Helen Quinn on helen.quinn@sfa.ie or 01 605 1668 or visit our website.

 

This is just one of the many topics we will be covering in the SFA Employment Law seminar in Limerick on 3 October and Dublin on 17 October so book your place today and gain practical ways of managing bullying and disputes in the workplace.

Call for submissions on critical skills list etc for employment permits
 

Are you struggling to hire specific occupations from Ireland or the EU? Is the specific occupation you need missing from the critical skills list or listed on the ineligible occupations list? If yes, please submit your comments to us by 10 July to amend the occupations list for employment permits…


Twice a year the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) invite representative bodies, employers and other interested parties to submit their input on the eligibility of occupations that are listed on the Critical Skills List and the Ineligible Occupations List for employment permits.

 

The SFA recently circulated an email inviting our members to submit their input to this and whether they are experiencing a skills shortage for certain occupations.  Specifically, they are looking for examples of the following:

  • Information on skills or labour shortages in your sector / industry
  • How long has your business / sector experienced these shortages?
  • What recruitment efforts have you undertaken both nationally and within the EU?
  • What retention difficulties have you experienced? Is there a cost and if yes how much by?
  • Have you looked into or availed of relevant training incentives?
  • What is the impact of the labour shortage on your business?
  • Has the lack of a specific occupation slowed or halted any plans for expansion? What is the economic impact of this?

They are particularly interested in any measurable data that can support your comments. If you can reference any reports or surveys or cost figures all of this is beneficial.

 

Previously the SFA has been successful in making changes to these lists which has benefited members and the wider industry, and we would appreciate your feedback on this critical issue again considering we are at full employment and small businesses are experiencing significant recruitment challenges. 

 

If your business is impacted by a shortage of specific occupations and you have exhausted all attempts to recruit on a national and European level, please send your comments to Helen at helen.quinn@sfa.ie by close of business on 10 July. You can read more about this from the email that was circulated recently or on the DBEI website here.

 

In addition, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection have revamped and launched the JobsIreland site where businesses can register their vacancies and the site will automatically identify candidates that best match your job vacancy. They also provide  recruitment advice and a range of supports and services to employers as well as providing access to EURES, the European wide recruitment service. More information on this is available at https://jobsireland.ie/en-US/employers

Climate Action Plan to tackle climate breakdown
 

On 17 June 2019, the Government launched the Climate Action Plan which sets out an ambitious course of action over the coming years to address climate disruption... 


Climate disruption is already having diverse and wide ranging impacts on Ireland's environment, society, economic and natural resources. On 17 June 2019, the Government launched the Climate Action Plan which sets out an ambitious course of action over the coming years to address this issue. 

 

The document emphasises nearly 200 actions that Ireland must take to reach current climate change targets. Ireland has declared a climate and biodiversity emergency at this time because the country is off target for emissions. The document describes multiple tactics to approach the goal of decarbonisation in major sectors such as electricity, transport, built environment, industries, and agriculture.

 

The SFA, along with Ibec, have the unique responsibility to create a community of groups that advocate and are held accountable for holding true to a low carbon trajectory. In our last member ezine we called for members to have your say on what you would like to do with revenues from Carbon Tax. We recently submitted this to the Department of Finance as part of their consultation which is currently in review. The SFA will continue to monitor the issue and update members appropriately as more information arrives. Find out more information and download a copy of the Climate Action Plan.

SFA Skillnet update
 

With over 80 participants attending our first SFA Skillnet subsidised training programmes, we are now looking for suggestions for our autumn/winter schedule...


We are off to a flying start with over 80 participants attending SFA Skillnet subsidised training programmes in May and June. The feedback has been very positive on the trainers and the content of the programmes, and of course on the excellent value for money!

 

The most popular programmes to date are in sales, leadership and management skills, essential people skills, pitching to win business, health and wellness in the workplace, HR and digital marketing. We will be in touch with members soon to find out what new programmes you would like to suggest for the autumn/winter schedule.

 

Some of our feedback so far from member companies whose team members attend our training:

 

“They found the trainers very engaging; they liked that the course content wasn’t prescriptive and could be adapted to their needs,” Dave Byrne, Managing Director of Dualtron,

 

“The feedback was hugely positive. The team members who attended the course came back and digested the information they learned and delivered a condensed version to the rest of the team. We’re now in the process of incorporating the learnings into how we operate daily,” Jimmy Sheehan, Commercial Director of Contracting Plus.

 

If you would like help in figuring our your training requirements, contact Geraldine Lavin, the SFA Skillnet Network Manager, on geraldine.lavin@sfa.ie or 087 7871642.

 

The SFA Skillnet is co-funded by Skillnet Ireland and member companies. Skillnet Ireland is funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.

Think you’re GDPR compliant? Check today for free through our Affinity Scheme
 

Maintain your ongoing GDPR compliance needs at an affordable price with Sovy...


Maintain your ongoing GDPR compliance needs at an affordable price with Sovy’s offer on the SFA Affinity Scheme.

 

Member benefits:

Find out more about the scheme and how to access the discount on our website

 

The SFA Affinity scheme is another perk of SFA membership and allows you to save money, build your brand and drive sales.

  • SFA members can get additional benefits and discounts across a range of products and services such as insurance, utilities, web design, professional services, GDPR services and much more. Browse all the offers
  • SFA / Ibec members can also promote offers to our wide network of members. This helps build your brand within the small business community and in turn drives sales. Contact louise.kenrick@sfa.ie if you are interested in advertising on the affinity platform.
EVENTS
SFA Webinar: Get the most from your SFA membership
 
  • 15 July - rescheduled date

Tune in on Monday, 15 July for a 20 minute webinar which will showcase the SFA services to ensure you get the most out of your SFA membership.

 

The webinar will cover:

  • HR, employment law, GDPR and general business advice provided to SFA members
  • Grow, Scale, Succeed online platform
  • SFA Affinity programme
  • How you can market your business to the SFA community
  • The small firm priorities the SFA voice to government
  • Upcoming SFA events
  • SFA Skillnet training courses

The webinar will be delivered by SFA Executive, Louise Kenrick. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions about your membership of the SFA.

 

If you have recently joined the SFA or would like to get a bit more from your membership, then register for this webinar

 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

SFA Employment Law Conference
 
  • Limerick - 3 October
  • Dublin - 10 October

Navigating the maze of employment law

 

The rise and complexity in the Irish employment law landscape is increasing year on year. This is particularly challenging for small businesses who are time poor and wear multiple hats within their company. So how can small businesses navigate the maze of employment law and be confident that they are complying with their obligations to their staff? The SFA employment law seminar is the solution.

 

In 2018 and 2019 there has been a raft of employment law from changes to contracts, the introduction of banded hours and increases in parental leave. The SFA employment law seminar will take you through the recent changes within contracts, how to determine the status of a genuine self-employed person and the proposed changes in parental leave.

 

We will also cover bullying and harassment, work related stress case, as well as the dos and don’ts of disciplinaries and dismissals.

 

The one day seminar is taking place in Limerick on 3 October and in Dublin on 10 October. Tickets costs €210 +VAT for SFA members and €295 +VAT for non-members. 

 

Agenda

 

Contracts 

  • Practical examples in action
  • Self-employment

Bullying and Harassment 

  • Table top exercise in a bullying case
  • One or two case law

Work related stress

 

OHS/Long working hours panel

  • Key learnings
  • Top things recognised

 

Family Leave

  • Parental Leave- Increased parental leave
  • Benefit Act

Discipline and Dismissal (Do/Donts)

  • Case studies- Practical
  • Role play

Book your place at the Limerick event or the Dublin event today. 

Save the date: SFA Annual Lunch
 
  • 12 November 

We are pleased to announce the SFA Annual Lunch, kindly sponsored by Bank of Ireland will take place on Friday, 15 November in The Round Room, The Mansion House, Dublin. Please save the date in your diaries, bookings for the event will open shortly. 

 

This event will gather SFA members, policy makers and stakeholders and it is an excellent opportunity for you, your colleagues, clients and guests to network in a relaxed environment. The guest speaker will be announced shortly. We hope that you can join for this great social event and kick off the festive season.